Monthly Archives: August 2009

Bitter Winner

bittersMixologists and cocktail enthusiasts sure do love their bitters. I’ve overheard, on more than one occasion, a group of like-minded cocktail lovers bragging about their bitters collection. Check out Kaiser Penguin’s recent post: Who Has the Most Bitters? for evidence of this. Interested in growing your collection, bitters-lovers? I’ve got your chance to score a very rare bottle of bitters right here….

The Bitter Truth recently created special-made bitters for Beefeater 24 gin. (For those unfamiliar, The Bitter Truth is a German company run by Stephan Berg and Alex Hauck. They make a range of bitters and liqueurs and have fast become successful and popular, especially within the bartending community). Currently there are only 100 bottles of these Beefeater bitters in the US and they are NOT for sale—but guess what?

I’ve got one.


Well it could be yours-but first, read on.

Unfortunately, I can’t share very much about these Beefeater bitters, but here’s a bit of info from Beefeater brand ambassador Dan Warner:

“In order to produce the bitters we send Stephan [Berg, of The Bitter Truth] high proof, straight off the still Beefeater Gin and he uses this as a base. The recipe is Stephan’s secret but he did tell me that lemongrass, kaffir lime leaf, and ‘a few different types of citrus’ are featured. They work amazing in martinis and I’ve also been dashing them in my G&Ts.”

Like I said, the bitters are a limited edition product and not currently for sale. Dan Warner is simply gifting them to select bars in New York and San Francisco. Here are a few names of establishments where you can find them (though they might be in more by now):

15 Romolo-San Francisco

The Rickhouse-San Francisco

Clock Bar-San Francisco

Nopa-San Francisco

Bourbon & Branch-San Francisco

Gitane-San Francisco

Pegu Club-NYC

Death & Co-NYC



Double Crown-NYC

So, you’re still wondering how you can get your hands on a bottle, huh? I’m offering up my bottle to the first reader who submits a photo of themselves with the bottle of Beefeater Bitters at one of the New York or San Francisco establishments they’re in. My apologies to those of you who aren’t near one of these major cities—I know what you’re thinking. These city slickers have all the fun, but you know what? They also pay exorbitant sums for rent and have to breathe in loads of pollution. Feel better? Me neither, but alas…

If you’re a bitters-lover and you’re in the San Fran or NYC area—get down to one of these joints with a camera in tote stat. Send your photo to me at samharrigan_at_comcast_dot_net. There can only be one winner so get on it! Good luck!

UPDATE: We have a winner, folks. Official announcement post will be up later today.


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My $100 Bar

barpicRecently I came across this post on LifeHacker with suggestions on how to stock your bar for just $100. I was intrigued & shared the link with some friends & followers on twitter. Wow—did that stir things up! Of course, considering many of my twitter followers spend the equivalent of a down payment on a mortgage on their own home bars, I’m not all that surprised that they took issue with the article.

I’ll admit there were a few things in there that threw me off too (for instance, it lists “sour mixes” as an essential for your home bar…yeah I don’t think so). But their whole idea of “essential liquors” (2 lights, 2 darks, & vermouth) is not all that bad, in my opinion, when you consider the crowd—a cocktail party for 15-20 friends. I think it’s a good start but I also feel the need to share my own version of a $100 bar.

Now, keep in mind I built this list with a cocktail party of 15-20 friends in mind. I don’t know about you, but not all my friends are Rye-sipping cocktailians with refined palates. Mostly they just want a well-made, simple drink that tastes good. I tried to offer some basic variety, so that everyone at the party would be able to enjoy something. Here it is:

My $100 Bar: (includes fruit & “mixers” though I assumed the bartender would be able to come up with simple syrup on their own—not too much to ask I hope).

Vodka (because people want to drink it): Sobieski for approx. $12

Gin: Beefeater (and you can believe me or not—I would have chosen this well before the brand was a client of mine): approx. $17

Rum: Sailor Jerry (*rumdood cringes*), moderately priced Spiced Rum that’s a step up from the “go-to” brand imho-approx. $17

Tequila: Gran Centenario Azul Tequila Reposado (phew! A mouthful!)—I think it mixes well in a Margarita, which is probably all I’m going to use it for in this case-approx. $16

Triple Sec: Essential! Hiram Walker for approx $8. Can’t beat it for the price, just ask: Lance Mayhew, Jacob Grier, Reese Lloyd, or Chris Null.

Limes & Lemons: (there’s your sour mix) $10

Cola, Fever Tree Tonic, & Cranberry Juice: (it will get asked for) $14

Angostura Bitters: $6

So, agree with me or not, this bar would do very well at almost any cocktail party I’ve been to (Tales of the Cocktail events not included). For only $100, I can make you a:

Vodka Tonic

Gin & Tonic

Cuba Libre


Vodka Cran

Pegu …..and probably more that just aren’t coming to mind

Now, that LifeHacker article goes on to make suggestions for larger parties—$100 bars for 30 people and then for 100+ people. It suggests a White Russian party for 30 people. I’m sorry, I love me some White Russian but I don’t think it’s the proper cocktail to plan a party around. Too sweet—too much of a dessert cocktail to be the only thing you’re serving. That’s like having people over for a dinner party and then only serving cheesecake.

If you find yourself with 30 thirsties and a budget to keep, I’d suggest a couple nice punches (with fresh fruit juice and fruit slices) or a few pitchers of Sangria.

And as far as a 100 person gathering—is this really necessary? At that point I’d say fix up the punch or Sangria and then tell everyone to BYOB! Unless of course it’s Spring Weekend at UConn and you’re throwing the most “wicked rager” the campus has ever seen—and you really want to impress the high school girls who’ve snuck in with your beer pong skills. Otherwise, I’d provide a few options and then let them pick their posion—and pay for it too—if they’re not pleased with what you have to offer.

So what do you think? Keeping in mind you’ve got to entertain a variety of friends here, how would you stock your bar with just $100?


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Drinks of Summer: The Bloodhound Cocktail

BloodhoundThis post is part of Cocktail Culture’s Drinks of Summer series, in which we will feature light & refreshing warm-weather cocktails.

Is there any flavor that says “summer” quite like strawberry? Not for me. I love using fresh strawberries in my cocktails—especially with gin. It’s light, it’s sweet, a little bit tart, it’s summertime perfection.

The Bloodhound cocktail, is an easy-breezy drink that employs three bar staples: dry vermouth, sweet vermouth, and gin. Throw in some fresh strawberries when you have them on hand and you’ve got yourself one fine drink. I found this little lovely while thumbing through The Savoy Cocktail Book, then immediately checked out Underhill Lounge to see if Eric Ellestad had covered it yet. Sure enough, he did, and the recipe I include below is actually adapted from his modernized take on it. Enjoy!

The Bloodhound Cocktail

¾ oz. Dry Vermouth (Dolin)

¾ oz. Sweet Vermouth (Martini & Rossi)

1 ½ oz. Beefeater Gin

2-3 crushed strawberries

Shake ingredients in a cocktail shaker and strain into a chilled cocktail glass.


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New Product: Kahlua Coffee Cream Liqueur

kahlua cream bottleThere’s a new product from the Kahlua line that’s about to make its debut and I have a feeling it’s going to be a hit for the holiday season. It’s Kahlua Coffee Cream Liqueur—think consistency of Bailey’s or Castries but with that famous Kahlua coffee flavor. Yum!

I’m lucky enough to have already had the chance to try it and it’s honestly great. Right up my alley. I loved it just served on the rocks, but I think come September we might get a few ideas about how to mix it in some great cocktails. I’ll keep you posted on an event we have coming right around the corner.

I want to stress that Kahlua Coffee Cream has a bold coffee flavor, and it’s a liqueur so expect it to be slightly sweet (but in my opinion, not kahlua cream iceoverpoweringly so). It’s made with 100% Arabica beans and natural cream. I think it will balance out fantastically with a variety of liquors. I can’t wait to try it out. I’ll be posting recipes throughout the fall season so keep an eye here for updates.

Kahlua Coffee Cream hits shelves late September early October.



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Drinks of Summer: Between the Sheets

bts cocktailThis post is part of Cocktail Culture’s Drinks of Summer series, in which we will feature light & refreshing warm-weather cocktails.

Google “Between the Sheets” and you’ll probably find an ad from Bed Bath & Beyond, a lingerie fashion show article, and a few NSFW sites. Learn from the mistake I made and google “Between the Sheets cocktail” instead if you’re looking to find a few great articles on this tasty tipple.

I first read about Between the Sheets on the White On Rice Couple blog. It sounded delicious, yet simple, and their wonderful photography made it look all the more appealing. A variation on the Sidecar, this cocktail was created at Harry’s New York Bar in Paris during the 1930’s (according to Jay over at Oh Gosh! And trust me, he knows what he’s talking about). Here it is—

Between the Sheets

¾ oz. Cognac (I like Colleen’s suggestion to use Apricot Brandy instead!)

¾ oz. Light Rum (Appleton Estate White)

¾ oz. Triple Sec (Hiram Walker)

½ oz. Lemon Juice

Shake ingredients well in a cocktail shaker filled with ice. Strain into a chilled cocktail glass and garnish with a lemon twist.


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Beefeater 24—Coming to a City Near You!

beefeater-24Well, maybe. Earlier this year the new gin, which features natural botanicals and flavors such as grapefruit, bitter almond, orris root, seville orange and accents of Japanese Sencha Tea and Chinese Green Tea, made its debut in the States. But much to the dismay of gin-swigging cocktailians everywhere, it was only initially available in New York and San Francisco.

In September, Beefeater 24 will become available in Beantown, LA-LA Land, and the City of Brotherly Love. Keep an eye here for updates and photos from the fabulous launch parties! And if you’re still nowhere near any of these cities—Patience, dear friend! The brand plans to expand to even more markets early next year.

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Drinks of Summer: English Afterthought

imbibe2This post is part of Cocktail Culture’s Drinks of Summer series, in which we will feature light & refreshing warm-weather cocktails.

I’m just now getting around to reading Imbibe’s Summer Drink Guide & I love the sound of this new cocktail from Michael Geist at The Edison in Los Angeles. Haven’t had the chance to try it yet but it sounds delicious. Adding ginger beer to the grocery list this weekend! Cheers!

English Afterthought by Michael Geist

2 oz. Gin

1/2 oz. St. Germain

1 Tbsp. fresh blueberries

1 Tbsp. fresh ginger, peeled and finely chopped

Ginger beer

Ice cubes

Muddle blueberries and ginger in glass. Fill glass with ice, then add gin and St. Germain. Stir, top with ginger beer and garnish.

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Drinks of Summer: Ramos Gin Yum

Ramos Gin FizzThis post is part of Cocktail Culture’s Drinks of Summer series, in which we will feature light & refreshing warm-weather cocktails.

My latest drink obsession—I love a Ramos Gin Fizz! Now, the TOTC session with Audrey Saunders was not the first time I’ve tried a Ramos Gin Fizz but it was the first time I realized how fantastically awesome they are. I haven’t been able to get them off my mind since. It is, by far, my favorite gin drink at the moment. Reese, over at Cocktail Hacker did a great write-up of the RG Fizz recently, with delicious-looking photos, so check him out.

Here’s the recipe I prefer:

Ramos Gin Fizz

1 tbsp. superfine sugar

3-4 drops orange flower water

Juice of ½ lemon

Juice of ½ lime

1 ½ oz. Beefeater gin

1 egg white

2 tablespoons heavy cream


Combine all ingredients (except seltzer) in a cocktail shaker with ice. Shake very well (like…you better shake your arm off and freeze your hands) and strain into a Collins glass. Top with Seltzer and stir. I also like it garnished with an orange slice like Reese used in his.

This is not an easy drink to make but, as an occasional treat, I think it’s well worth the time and effort. It’s a great-tasting cocktail with a wonderful history (read Paul Clarke’s article from way back when to read up on all that and more). So if you’re feeling ambitious this weekend and can get your hands on some orange flower water, you’ve absolutely got to try this!

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Dave Wondrich on The Colbert Report

If you haven’t seen it already, check out cocktail historian Dave Wondrich on The Colbert Report, as he mixes up a new signature drink for Stephen. You can watch the video on Cocktailnerd.

Dave is a key member of The Bar LLC and has recently partnered with Pernod Ricard to create a new bartender training program with both a live & online component called BarSmarts. More on that later.


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